Antara Das

As part of an effort to make `every child count in the city'

  • UNICEF takes part in pilot project
  • Certificate will protect children from underage marriage, trafficking and child labour

    Kolkata: For the first time in India, around 50,000 birth certificates will be provided at one go to street and working children living in Kolkata, belonging to some of the most disadvantaged sections of society.

    The birth certificate, which is an important legal proof of age, is expected to protect these children from abuses such as underage marriage, trafficking and child labour as well as establish their rights in matters relating to property and inheritance.

    The pilot project undertaken from 2005 by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and City Level Programme of Action (CLPOA) registered the births of those living on the streets or the urban slums as part of an effort to make `every child count in the city' as well as promote the system of birth registration.

    "It is essentially a child protection issue to ensure that children are not treated as adults," said Priyanka Khanna, Communications Officer, UNICEF. As a networking platform consisting of 75 non-governmental organisations, the CLPOA gathered data through the partners and discovered that of the 74,936 children covered, 50,124 children were born in the city, making them eligible for registration under the KMC.

    While the existing norms required a court affidavit and a deposit of Rs.100 as late fee for registering births once a child was over a year old, the Department of Health and Family Welfare, West Bengal, reduced the late fee to a mere 50 paise, said Achintya Bhattacharya, Secretary, CLPOA.